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Volume 34
Issue 14
 
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Brick sinks - An interesting idea gone wrong
Brick sinks - An interesting idea gone wrong
by Derich Mantonela - SGN A&E Writer

Brick

Opens Today, at the Neptune

"Brick" is an aptly named movie. Thick, heavy and clunky, it quickly sinks to the bottom.

Billed as an experiment in "high school film noir," director/writer Rian Johnson's attempt to morph the 1930s/40s genre onto a contemporary "Generation-X" setting is an interesting idea gone wrong.

Gone wrong, simply because Johnson's routine script offers nothing new, while his superficially flat, dimensionless characters and awkward pacing give us little of interest to hang onto.

In the lead role as a disaffected teen searching to unravel the web of his high school sweetheart's drug-related murder, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (much more notably personable in TV's "Third Rock From The Sun") is among the actors lost in the shuffle of Johnson's lurchingly deadpan, muddy approach. If he was striving for an amateurish, non-professional aura, he has succeeded here, all too well.

One of "Brick's" biggest problems is its lack of authenticity. These high schoolers look and act like more like older UCLA film school method actors. Their pithy, antiquated hipster verbal badinage is going to be lost on teens who never watched an Alan Ladd or a Veronica Lake movie in their lives. Those of us who HAVE seen (and love) those old black and white classics are going to be disappointed that Johnson doesn't do a better job of capturing (satirizing?) their essence. Infusing his movie with heavy-handed "mood" can't cover up for its lack of freshness and vitality and originality.

Gloomy lighting, trash-strewn back alleys, sudden explosions of contrived violence, a cliched and intrusive musical score, a half baked plot and quarter-baked characterizations just don't cut it.

"Brick" ends up seeming ponderous, pretentious, lumpy and stale, like a bad dumpling served up on a cracked plate.

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